Roads under repair has become a familiar sight in Knysna. According to Knysna Municipality Executive Mayor Mark Willemse, a new maintenance programme for roads and storm water infrastructure has been approved. “We all know that if you look after something, it lasts longer. This programme, which has already been implemented, will ensure that this infrastructure is regularly maintained throughout all wards.”
The new maintenance programme sees internal teams and contractors performing maintenance functions throughout all wards on a predetermined, cyclic basis. “When our teams are busy within any particular ward(s), as dictated by the maintenance programme, the focus will be on performing maintenance tasks in those areas alone,” said Willemse. “Should an emergency in another ward arise where a grievous and immediate threat to life or property has been identified, the relevant team will respond to the problem. If time allows, the team will return to performing maintenance work in the predetermined ward before moving on as determined by the programme.”
Any complaints received and not deemed as an emergency will be dealt with as a priority when the maintenance cycle brings teams to the ward from where those complaints originated. “This presents three key benefits,” he explained. “When a resident logs a complaint, the municipal respondent will be able to refer to the maintenance programme and provide an accurate time frame within which the situation should be addressed. Sticking to the schedule and moving to the next ward on the programme, despite work possibly having been interrupted by an emergency, means that there will be no ripple-effect of delays trickling down to other wards. Teams being able to focus their efforts within one ward, without racing from one site to another across town, is a third big benefit. This will allow our maintenance teams to accomplish much more with the time and resources available to them.”
Maintenance works to the storm water system include: the cleaning and repairing of storm water drains and pipes; the cleaning of open drains, channels, manholes, outlets, sumps and detention ponds; and repairs to structures, kerb-side inlets and grids.
Works to roads include general road repair, blading and resurfacing (not including the roll-out of resurfacing as guided by the Rural Roads Asset Management System). The programme also makes provision for preparations for the busy summer holiday season with regards both the roads and storm water infrastructure.
“Funding for asset management and maintenance has been approved,” Willemse said. “The approved maintenance programme for roads and storm water will run to a budget of just over R29 million and R1 million respectively during the 2019/2020 financial year. But it must be said that there is a truly significant maintenance backlog.”
These backlogs may be ascribed to underfunding of maintenance over many years in the main and, the steady expansion of human settlements in Greater Knysna. The accompanying population growth leads to increased traffic which ultimately leads to the gradual wear and tear of the condition and lifespan of surfaced roads. The municipality’s challenge is not only sustaining the available budget but increasing it above inflation so that all backlogs may be eradicated before the current infrastructure reaches the end of its lifespan.
“I’d like to clarify the reality of time available to us in relation to funds available to us,” Willemse explained. “For example, funding has been made available for the upgrading of gravel roads. At the current rates, it will take us approximately 11 years to complete this programme. That is assuming zero inflation and that no growth takes place that increases the current number of gravel roads in our area.”
“Any roadworks are guaranteed to cause a degree of frustration and inconvenience. If you are faced with such, please be patient!” he urged. “Remember that the slight inconvenience experienced at that moment allows for easy riding in the future.”
“We understand the importance of maintaining a well-surfaced roads network,” he concluded. “It is crucial to tourism, our economic driver. It is essential for the transport of goods to and through Greater Knysna and it is vital to the continued well-being of the people who use it most – our residents. Our maintenance programme for roads and storm water will ensure that all of this runs smoothly.”